ZocdocAnswersHow is osteochondritis treated?

Question

How is osteochondritis treated?

My teenage son is an athlete and was just diagnosed with osteochondritis of the knee. What should we do to treat this? Is surgery within the realm of possibiltiy? How will it affect his career as an athlete?

Answer

Osteochondritis, or osteochondritis dissecans, is a common but poorly understood disorder that occurs frequently in teenagers, boys more than girls. In the disorder, a small segment of bone near the joint degrades and may displace into the joint space. This most commonly occurs in athletic teenagers and is thought to be related to the repetitive impact trauma of their sports. The most common joint affected is in fact the knee, and usually the symptoms are pain, stiffness, and sometimes a sensation of 'catching' or 'giving way' of the joint. After picking up the disorder, usually on an X-ray, MRI is often performed to decide whether the problem is stable or severe. More severe lesions do generally require a surgical approach to exam the cartilage surface of the knee and to remove any bony fragments. However, most cases of osteochondritis dissecans can be managed conservatively, meaning without surgical intervention. The most important part of treatment is rest and a complete avoidance of sports for usually about 2 months, coupled with stretching and rehabilitative exercises. If these recommendations are complied with, many cases heal well and patients can go back to participating in sports. Your pediatrician or sports medicine doctor will be able to answer more questions for you about this disorder.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.